The White House is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard terrorist organizations, moves that could create serious problems for U.S. relations in the Middle East, according to reports in the New York Times and Reuters.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a broad Islamic political movement, officially renounced violence in the 1970s in favor of nonviolent reform. Throughout the next several decades, the Brotherhood and its regional offshoots became entrenched in the political structures of the Muslim world, fighting within governments to achieve their political goals. Still, the campaign to name the group a terrorist organization has persisted because its “stated goal is to wage violent jihad against its enemies,” Senator Ted Cruz said in 2015 when he introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act.
Despite pressure from Egyptian leaders, where the Brotherhood was pushed out of power in 2013, and American lawmakers, some of whom fear a fictional bogeyman of Muslim Brotherhood invasion in small-town America, the Obama administration resisted calls to designate the group a terror organization because there was “no evidence that its leaders had systematically ordered terrorist attacks,” the Times says.
Naming the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group would be largely symbolic— another bone thrown to the wing of GOP who believes it’s the “foundation of modern terrorism,” as Steve Bannon once said. But it’s also controversial within the government, as experts within the State Department tell the White House that “there is no legal basis for it and that it could alienate allies in the region,” the Times says. Granting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard the same designation, on the other hand, is reportedly a popular plan in the White House.
While the Guard’s Quds Force is already on the U.S. terrorist list, naming the Guard itself a terror organization could create some upheaval in the Middle East. According to Reuters, problems could include “further inflaming regional conflicts” and mucking up the fight against ISIS in Iraq, where the U.S. and Iran are on the same side. The goal of the designation from the White House’s perspective, among other things, would be to dissuade foreign governments from doing business with Iran, where the Revolutionary Guard is deeply involved in the economy.